Instead of pressing John McCain to defend himself to Republican primary voters in the wake of a New York Times editorial endorsing him which praised McCain for his more liberal views on global warming, campaign finance and illegal immigration, during Thursday night's GOP presidential debate on MSNBC, Brian Williams demanded Rudy Giuliani respond to the denigration of him by the left-wing newspaper -- which Williams called “your home town paper” -- as a “vindictive man” with a “breathtaking” level of “arrogance and bad judgment.” To audience applause, Giuliani pointed out that if he ever “did anything the New York Times suggested...I wouldn't be considered a conservative Republican.”
Concluding the 97-minute debate from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Williams promised questions about “how you counter the attacks against you from your opponents,” presumably those on stage, and Williams did hit Mitt Romney on his flip-flops and McCain on his age. But leading off with Giuliani shortly before 10:30pm EST, Williams pursued:
In tomorrow morning's editions of the New York Times they are out with their endorsements in the New York primary. Senator Clinton on the Democratic side, Senator McCain on the Republican side. In tonight's lead editorial, they say, quote: "The real Mr. Giuliani, who many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive vindictive man. His arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking." How can you defend against that in your home town paper? How have you changed as a man since this portrait?
January 25 New York Times editorial endorsing Hillary Clinton.
An excerpt from the praise for McCain in the shorter January 25 editorial endorsing the Arizona Senator:
....Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field.
We have shuddered at Mr. McCain's occasional, tactical pander to the right because he has demonstrated that he has the character to stand on principle. He was an early advocate for battling global warming and risked his presidential bid to uphold fundamental American values in the immigration debate. A genuine war hero among Republicans who proclaim their zeal to be commander in chief, Mr. McCain argues passionately that a country's treatment of prisoners in the worst of times says a great deal about its character....
Mr. McCain stood up for the humane treatment of prisoners and for a ban on torture. We said then that he was being conned by Mr. Bush, who had no intention of following the rules. But Mr. McCain took a stand, just as he did in recognizing the threat of global warming early. He has been a staunch advocate of campaign finance reform, working with Senator Russ Feingold, among the most liberal of Democrats, on groundbreaking legislation, just as he worked with Senator Edward Kennedy on immigration reform.
That doesn’t make him a moderate, but it makes him the best choice for the party’s presidential nomination.
The Williams/Giuliani exchange near the end of the January 24 debate, moderated by Williams with questions also from Tim Russert:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: These questions are designed to speak to who you all are in terms of how you counter the attacks against you from your opponents, the weaknesses your opponents among others perceive. Mayor Giuliani, we're going to begin with you. In tomorrow morning's editions of the New York Times they are out with their endorsements in the New York primary. Senator Clinton on the Democratic side, Senator McCain on the Republican side. In tonight's lead editorial, they say, quote: “The real Mr. Giuliani, who many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive vindictive man. His arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking.” How can you defend against that in your home town paper? How have you changed as a man since this portrait?
RUDY GIULIANI: Because I probably never did anything the New York Times suggested I do in eight years as Mayor of New York City. And if I did, I wouldn't be considered a conservative Republican. I changed welfare [audience applause] I changed quality of life. I took on homelessness. I did all the things that they thought make you mean, and I believe show true compassion and true love for people. I moved people from welfare to work. When I did that, when I set up workfare, the New York Times wrote nasty editorials about how mean I was, how cruel I was. I think there's a serious idea logical difference, and I worked for Ronald Reagan. And I remember once. when I was in the Justice Department, the New York Times wrote a very laudatory editorial about my boss, Bill Smith, the Attorney General. And Bill was very nervous that Ronald Reagan would get upset that we were off agenda because of the good New York Times editorial. So the reality is that I think there is a serious ideological difference. That probably was some of the nicest language they've written about me in the last six months.